The harpooned great white shark heaves onto sand, Nudged by waves, red cavern of dripping teeth. A crowd comes. Loud gulls wreathe the booming mist. Blue flies cloud the fishy sunset, and land. One, sated, is slapped to a smear beneath A child’s quick hand and then flicked from his wrist. Compass and munitions are sunk with skulls In wrecks beneath old storms, glass angels And hourglasses, flint of sunlight through motes, Violence of slit sails, drowned crews, split hulls, Quiet draw of dust, too, and all that it pulls, The slow leak and loss of each thing that floats— Flail and wild eye, flecked spit of crippled horse, Crust of diamonds on the throat of a corpse.
First published in the Yale Review. Copyright © 2009 by Ernest Hilbert. Used by permission of the author.